• Why Has The Guardian Been So Ruthlessly and Recklessly Partisan?

    I have read virtually every edition of The Guardian for the past 54 years, ever since I arrived in the UK as a 23 year old Rhodes Scholar.  Over that whole period, I have regarded it as the most reliable and trustworthy guide to the great affairs of the nation and the world.

    I have never expected to agree with everything that the Guardian says, nor, I am sure, would they have thought of agreeing with everything I say.  Indeed, there have been two major issues on which I have felt strongly and on which I have knowingly (and not always to my advantage) disagreed with The Guardian – first, the Common Market or, as it became, the European Union, and secondly, what I see as the perennial propensity to hold the pound at the highest possible (that is to say, invariably over-valued) level.

    I had the satisfaction of seeing outcomes on one of those issues – our membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism and then our proposed membership of the euro – resolved in the way I wanted; I wonder if The Guardian still supports those arrangements?

    I have long recognised that many Guardian writers treat the question of Europe as one of virtually religious significance.  The impulse to share in and contribute to the glories of European civilisation (which I am as glad as anyone to celebrate and enjoy) has transcended for them any other consideration.  My own view on these matters regards our arrangement with the continent not so much a matter of eternal verities, as of severely practical consequences of a largely economic character.

    That view of these matters was first formed when I served in the Foreign Office and then in the Brussels Embassy at the time when Britain was attempting to lift the Gaullist veto against our membership.

    As the Common Market has grown into its present form as a huge single European economy, I have been confirmed in my view that the deal we have been offered is not “Europe” but a very particular economic arrangement which serves the interests of large international corporations and their political representatives and is accordingly inimical to British interests and adverse in its effects on the lives of many British citizens.

    I fully expected, therefore, to find that The Guardian took a different view from mine during the referendum campaign.  What I had not foreseen was that Guardian readers were not permitted to know that such a view – the view of, I like to think, perfectly sensible and moderate people that we and Europe could do better – actually existed.  I remain happy to explain, to whomever wishes to listen, that once the immediate market turmoil subsides and European leaders face reality rather than yield to pique, the post-Brexit economic outlook for the UK is strongly positive.

    Throughout the referendum campaign, even the smallest grain of anti-Brexit sentiment, however improbable, was grist to the mill.  Readers of the Guardian were told relentlessly that the only people who wanted a different Europe were those who are either disreputably racist or prepared to exploit racism to gain their own political ends.

    When it became apparent that there is a majority in favour of a better arrangement, the Guardian – like so many others of the bien pensants – expressed shock and horror (not to say fury and vitriol) and accused the majority of our fellow-citizens, who had done no more than express their view in a democratic ballot, of treachery and evil.  No attempt has been made to reconsider the misapprehensions as to what would happen.  Instead, all those who had good and legitimate reasons for wanting to see a Leave outcome have simply been lumped together, with no other explanation, with the supposed forces of darkness.

    It has been asserted (without fear of any contradiction since it is supported by a scrutiny of the Guardian’s coverage of the issue), that no case worth consideration in favour of Leave was ever advanced – a classic instance of adding insult to injury.  It is a gratuitous insult suffered not only by the perhaps small proportion of Guardian readers who took a different view, but also by the millions of people who voted to leave, despite the constant advice of their supposed betters.

    Even the issue of immigration, which features so large in the minds of disappointed Remainers as the flimsiest of fig-leafs to conceal what they are convinced is an incipient racism, is misrepresented to Guardian readers.  It is easy to see a constant flow of cheap labour as simply a boon, particularly for employers.  And for the London-based middle-class, it means – doesn’t it? – inexpensive help to look after the children or to do the housework and to provide cheap and efficient service in shops and restaurants.

    But for millions of others, particularly in the north, cheap labour is a tap that cannot be turned off.  It is in full flow as we speak (or write) and it means constant daily and ever-increasing competition for jobs, houses, school places, hospital beds.  It is an unwelcome fact of everyday life.  It is essentially a matter of numbers, rather than race.  While it may of course, whether we like it or not, fade too easily in some minds from one into the other, treating those who face these harsh realities as somehow traitors and criminals shows how far removed we are from the days when The Guardian included the word Manchester  in its title.

    The failure of the ruling class, and that includes the Parliamentary Labour Party, to understand these realities is an indictment of our democracy.  Jeremy Corbyn, it seems, is castigated by his parliamentary colleagues for failing to tell Labour voters with sufficient conviction that they must vote against what they see as their own self-interest.  Sadly, there you have the modern Labour party’s problem in a nutshell.

    Bryan Gould

    28 June 2016


  1. sonyarus says: June 28, 2016 at 6:08 amReply

    Bryan it seems to me you didn’t answer your own question. ‘Why has the Guardian been so ruthlessly and recklessly partisan?”

    It seems to me at some point the editorial leadership of the paper has suffered a political take over by globalist, neocon ideology. Quite apart from the Brexit campaign and aftermath, a virulent strain of neocon partisanship has been evident on all matters of a geopolitical nature. Want a balanced, let alone progressive, view of what is happening in the world you won’t get it from the Guardian. Try OffGuardian – thats where the honest minds have gone.

  2. David Stanley says: June 28, 2016 at 6:54 amReply

    Our £ & democracy is under artificial attack by the elite political class club. Who own the Guardian as we live in a free country this paper is allowed to lead an attack on our very democracy, we however can fight back against this attack. that is also democracy.

  3. Robert Jones says: June 28, 2016 at 9:10 amReply

    It all began to get worse with the new editor, possibly partly in reaction to the paper’s huge financial problems. I don’t know if the anti-Corbyn line would have been so shrill, persistent, and unfair had Rusbridger remained in post.

    The point about in or out of the EU though is slightly different; the Guardian has always been profoundly pro-EU, there’s not really any surprise there. The case for leaving – which just for the record I didn’t support – was not made in the Guardian, but then was hardly made cogently anywhere else either. If the face of a campaign is Dominic Cummings, Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, plus a few minnows – as it was – it’s easy to mock, and a piece of cake to disregard entirely. And it’s possible to make the right decision for the wrong reasons – you may think that’s been the case; I think it’s the wrong case for the wrong reasons, and doubtless as two lefty elderly chaps we could have a discussion about that without wanting to go out and break an immigrant’s shop windows, as has happened in my local town over the weekend. The fact is however that much of the campaign was about race, whether overtly stated or not, and we’re now seeing what loathsome forces this has unleashed.

  4. Doug Nicholls says: June 28, 2016 at 3:46 pmReply

    Exactly so Brian. There is nothing more frightening than an angry liberal, the Guardian was appalling throughout apart from the sane voice of Larry Elliott.

  5. Lisa Jenkins says: June 28, 2016 at 7:03 pmReply

    Hi Bryan
    I hope you are well ( you know my father Robert Jenkins – you went to school together ) Whilst I absolutely agree that the pound will ( eventually) stabilise – I am more worried about the cultural and racial implications of leaving the EU. As a disabled working woman IF Brexit goes ahead as re Article 50 I will lose all human & working rights and my friends of colour and my LGBT friends will lose theirs too.
    Nothing is certain right now, and way too many factors are involved to ascertain how things will really play out in the coming weeks. The rise of the far right has taken hold, with a 57% increase in racist attacks. The genie is out of the bottle – I’m not sure it can go back. What are your thoughts on this
    All The Best
    Lisa Jenkins

  6. Joseph Scott-Jones says: June 28, 2016 at 7:13 pmReply

    It’s a shame the vote hinged on immigration as a key issue, opening the door to vitriol and jingoistic comments and supporting the extremists who feed off the power of oppressing others.
    I have huge respect for your opinion and do not doubt the potential for the economic outlook for businesses in the UK to eventually improve outside the EU, we will find out in time but will never be able to know how much better off ( or worse off ) the UK economy will be as a result of exit as we won’t have anything o compare it with.
    What we see, from the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere as interested expats, still holding onto our now less useful UK passports, is a community that seems to value the politics of exclusion over inclusion.
    The immigration stats for the UK do not seem to support the argument that overwhelming numbers are increasing competition for school and NHS Places or driving down labour prices, net migration has remained reasonably stable – perhaps with a blip in 2015 but on the basis of provisional figures. https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/may2016/2f1e7211.png
    It’s important to have an opinion of course, and immigration too quickly becomes an emotive topic, but I do think we need to focus on the value diversity brings to our communities and the strength we have as a unified community with shared values based on equity.
    How likely is it that people in “blue collar” jobs will benefit from the economic gains made outside the EU do you think Brian ? Will we have stronger labour laws? Better working conditions? A return to a unionised workforce ? Are these important ?

  7. Bryan Gould says: June 29, 2016 at 7:58 pmReply

    Jo, the UK has always benefited from immigration and will continue to do so. But most countries, historically, have been able to control their own borders; if they can’t (and if they are particularly desirable destinations for flows that cannot be limited), it’s not surprising if those who are required to attempt the assimilation get a bit restive. As you rightly assume, my own reasons for Brexit go much wider than immigration. I believe that the UK will, as a fully self-governing democracy, be a stronger economy and a more integrated society. We’ll be able to judge these matters better once the hysteria has died down. Kind regards, Bryan

  8. Henry Johnson says: July 17, 2016 at 7:02 amReply

    Only just found your site, and I am relieved to find reasoned discussion on vital subjects. Once again, thank you!

    It does seem that the ball has popped out of the side of the scrum, the Tories have realised this quickly and they are in the process of diving on it with the clear opportunity of defining the debate on HOW we leave. Just as the previous Labour leadership allowed the post-2008 debate to accept a blatantly false analysis of “where the money went” and supported austerity but just a bit more slowly, the PLP and Guardian are destroying the opposition now, when it really needs to be thinking about a coherent line on what “Brexit means Brexit” means.

    Keep it up!

  9. John Cartmell says: July 29, 2016 at 3:57 pmReply

    Whilst I can follow your argument as far as UK economics are concerned – though I don’t entirely agree – I believe that Brexit is a mistake because of the work that we need to do, with the rest of the EU, in order to deal with our greatest threat which is global warming. The scientific, technological, and political work that needs to be done can only be done through co-operation that will be badly damaged by both the UK’s withdrawal and the waste of resources concentrating on the prices of withdrawal.

    I’m not even convinced by the economic argument. TTIP will happen as easily to a UK outside the EU as one inside. We should stay in and concentrate our strength on changing the EU into an organisation protecting people more than corporations. The EU – and not the UK – has the power to do that.

    But despite the above disagreements I thank you for a sane analysis of our politics and economics in an increasingly insane world.

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